Champions League qualification failure won't financially cripple Arsenal, but a player exodus might!

With Arsenal languishing in an unfamiliar fifth place in the Premier League, the prospect of the club not qualifying for the Champions League next year is becoming all too real.

Indeed, Gunners chairman Peter Hill-Wood haseven been moved to dismissed fears that a failure to qualify for the elite competition would be catastrophic for club.

"There is no denying that it would be a real financial drain on the club if we didn't qualify for the Champions League next season,” says Hill-Wood. "Even if we were in the Uefa Cup and enjoyed a long run in Europe, that would not come close to making up the shortfall.

"But although missing out on the Champions League for one year would be a big disappointment, it would not mean financial armageddon for Arsenal.”

That might well be the case, as Hill-Wood claims that Champions League qualification was not fingured into the repayment schedule for the new stadium.

But as a paying customer, I think he’s vastly under-playing the significance of the European Cup.

Failure to qualify could result in a lot of disgruntled players and Arsene Wenger having to struggle with keeping his squad together, rather than trying to strengthen it...

A run to the Champions League final can earn a club about £30 million and as the old saying goes, you’ve got to be in it to win it, so I pray that the Arsenal board have the foresight to realise thatan investment in new players now could pay off significantly in the months to come.

Non qualification would not be the end of the world, but Le Gaffer might have a fight on his hands to hold on to talent such as Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor, Theo Walcott and others who surely have the ambition to play at the highest level.

The club’s ability to attract world class talent would also be undermined. We all know about the club’s debilitating wage structure, but we have been able to counter that with the ability to offer players Champions League football. Lose that and signing for the Arsenal suddenly becomes a thornier issue.

Then there’s the prospect of Wenger himself leaving. The manager has famously never broken a contract. However, it is his stated ambition to win the Champions League and failure to qualify for next year’s tournament would mean that Arsene would go into the final year of his contract needing to win club football’s biggest prize.

So Mr Hill-Wood, missing out on Champions League action might not mean financial armageddon, but you and your fellow directors should sometimes remember that it’s success on the pitch that your customers - that’s us fans, by the way - want to see. Not a meticulous balancing of the books as our team slips dangerously close to mediocrity.

Spending £20-30 million now on two or three experience players could make the difference in earning the same each season for many seasons to come.

There are still three days before the transfer window closes. Let’s hope the Arsenal hierarchy can secure some new talent in that time to allow their manager to mount an assault on the top four places.